£5 million fund announced to help improve support for new and expectant mothers' mental health

A £5 million fund for perinatal mental health services has been announced as the first step to improving support for mothers.
Post natal depression

A £5 million fund for perinatal mental health services has been announced as the first step to improving support for mothers.

Post natal depression

A total of £365 million has been allocated by NHS England for specialist perinatal mental health services over the next five years, with the aim of helping an extra 30,000 new or expectant mothers.

Dividing up portions

The first tranche of money is for community-based services that support women with mental illness in pregnancy or the postnatal period.

Fewer than 15% of areas currently provide services to levels recommended in national guidelines, and more than 40% provide no service at all.

Dr Giles Berrisford, associate national clinical director for perinatal mental health, said: 'We absolutely need to ensure that all women have the access to high quality perinatal mental health care and are committed to addressing current issues and variation.'

Earlier this year, Health Education England and the Institute of Health Visiting said the number of specialist health visitors in perinatal and infant mental health needed to increase.

Announcement welcomed

The Royal College of Midwives last year welcomed a government announcement to halve mortality rates in maternity care – a plan which included ensuring all staff have training to identify poor perinatal mental health.

A recent RCN survey of 2,000 new parents found that 41% experienced anxiety, depression or another mental health issue during or after the pregnancy of their first child.

RCN professional lead for mental health nursing Ian Hulatt said: 'These plans to improve services are long overdue.

'The proportion of parents experiencing mental health difficulties is rising.

'Thus far services have fallen short of addressing the scale of this problem, but this investment should go a long way to boosting the proportion of new mothers who can access support'.